A Day for Remembering

Posted on November 11, 2009


On November 11th, the United States “celebrates” Veterans Day. We normally remember it with big retail sales. As a veteran, that seems a shame to me.

Veterans Day, or Remembrance Day, or Armistice Day, depending on where you live, commemorates the armistice at the end of WWI in 1918 (as opposed to the Treaty of Versailles, which wasn’t signed until June 28, 1919). It’s intended to commemorate our survivors, those who lived through their wars. I’m historian enough to know that American troops continued to fight on Russian soil against the revolutionaries until July, 1919; and that the Allies didn’t sign a formal peace treaty with the Ottoman Empire until 1923.

Memorial Day is also “celebrated” in the US, albeit in May. Memorial Day was originally instituted to commemorate those who lost their lives in the US Civil War, but was expanded to include WWI.

If you want to stick with the real meaning of the day, contact your local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) post or American Legion hall. Ask them about observances. Some states, like California, will waive entry fees to national parks and forests on Veterans Day, so visit one. If you see someone wearing a red poppy, say “thank you.” Check the news for any national moment of silence, and observe that.

Personally, I’ll try to find time to watch Kelly’s Heroes, The Longest Day, and The Big Red One – three of my favorites.